Even vegetable haters have to admit they can stand to eat them if they're covered in luscious cheese sauce. At its heart that is exactly what cauliflower au gratin is. Of course, developing a subtle flavor in the cheese sauce is what elevates this popular dish. I love cauliflower gratin myself. But I found myself thinking: what if there was a way to get the sauce even more throughout the dish and to enjoy a smoother experience, like a puree? Well, there is. And pre-roasting the cauliflower in clarified brown butter serves two purposes: one is to cut down on time needed for the gratin in the oven, making it easier to save your sauce from separating; and the other purpose is to add another dimension of flavor to it--butter roasted cauliflower has a nutty sweetness all its own. That nutty sweetness is a perfect--if subtle--compliment to the sharp, creamy and nutty gruyere as well as the sweet and vaguely spicy touch of nutmeg in the sauce.
Brown Butter Cauliflower Gratin
1/2 head of cauliflower, divided into large florets
3 ounces guyere cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons Butter, divided
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 small pinch nutmeg
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay cauliflower florets in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. Brown one tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, clarify and brush thoroughly over every floret. Add a small pinch of salt to taste.
2. Roast for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. When it has cooled puree it roughly in a blender.
3. In a saucepan melt remaining butter. Add cream and whisk to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg. Pinch by pinch add in cheese and whisk to combine.
4. Combine sauce and cauliflower in your baking dish and bake at 375 until the top starts to turn golden, about 10 - 20 minutes.
5. Serve and enjoy.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!